Penne with Herbs, Tomatoes, Olives and Pecorino

Aunt Suzy update May 2020 . . .

I was looking on Pinterest yesterday, desperate for some fresh ideas for dinner! I thought this looked good and when I clicked, I saw it was on OUR BLOG!! Margaux says this is a family favorite and I see why! We added non-marinated artichoke hearts and we think that should be part of the recipe, so I’ve added it to the ingredients as an option. Delicious!

Margaux says…

This pasta salad caught my eye on “Food and Wine” because of the olives and tomatoes…I really love that combo of flavors in a pasta salad.  But what made this excellent is the mixed herb pesto that you toss it with, and the shaved pecorino that you toss in after it’s completely cooled, so that it doesn’t melt.  This dish has a ton of flavor and will be in regular rotation on our “pasta Wednesdays” in the summer!

Penne with Herbs, Tomatoes, Olives and Pecorino

adapted from Food and Wine

1 pound penne or other small pasta shapes

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup basil leaves

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 garlic cloves, halved

2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh thyme

2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh marjoram or oregano

Salt

1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes—halved

1 can artichoke hearts, cut in quarters or eighths (optional)

1/3 cup Calamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

1 cup coarsely grated Tuscan Pecorino Romano cheese (3 ounces)

Freshly ground pepper

Cook the penne or other pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large serving bowl.  Let sit to get to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a blender, puree the basil, parsley, garlic, thyme, marjoram with 1/3 cup of olive oil.  (You can also use a stick blender to puree the herbs in a bowl.) Add more olive oil if you think it’s necessary…the original recipe called for 1/2 cup, but I felt that was a little much.  Scrape into the bowl with the pasta and season with salt, then toss together.

Then toss in the tomatoes and olives and let stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes to develop flavor. Just before serving, add the Pecorino, season with salt and pepper and toss well.

Aunt Suzy’s cooks notes: We used a different type of small pasta and it worked well. The artichoke hearts added a nice tang to the dish. We also used oil cured olives with thyme – I can see a number of different olives working well in this dish. Both Margaux and I agree that Parmigiano Reggiano works as well as Pecorino Romano, although I like the funky salty goodness of the sheep’s milk cheese.

MAKE AHEAD The pasta can be tossed up to 2 hours ahead.